joined the Eknath Shinde-led NDA government in Maharashtra on July 2 not as a rebel of the Nationalist Congress Party but as the “national president” of the party displacing his uncle Sharad Pawar, who founded it in 1999.
It has now emerged that Ajit Pawar had already approached the Election Commission on June 30 for stake over the party symbol and also to inform the poll panel that he had been elected as the new party chief by an “overwhelming majority” of members of
, both from the legislative and organisational wing.
This was two days before he took oath as deputy chief minister in the NDA government.
The battle for control of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had reached the Election Commission even before the rebellion led by Ajit Pawar and 8 other NCP MLAs came to the fore on July 2.
Even the affidavit signed by the 40 legislators supporting Ajit Pawar, which was presented to the poll body on July 5, bears the date of June 30 implying that the rebel faction had planned its moves well in advance this time.
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When Ajit Pawar had first rebelled against Sharad Pawar in 2019 to take oath with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, he was forced to make a retreat as he did not find support within the party.
However, this time around Ajit Pawar did not commit the mistake and has planned his moves well in advance.
A day after the coup was made public when Ajit Pawar and 8 other MLAs joined the Maharashtra government, the rebel faction announced key changes in the party’s top brass.
The Ajit faction appointed Sunil Tatkare as the Maharashtra unit president while “sacking” Jayant Patil.
However, Ajit Pawar insisted that Sharad Pawar remains the national party president when quizzed by reporters at a press conference on July 3. This is despite the fact that the group had already informed the poll panel that Ajit was the national party chief.
A statement issued by the Ajit Pawar faction on Wednesday said “The National President as well as all the other office bearers of the party were appointed in an alleged National Convention dated 10th/11th September 2022. The said appointment is itself a void and ab initio since there is absolutely no record of the persons who attended the national convention and voted in favour of Shri Sharad Pawar.”
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The Sharad Pawar faction, on the other hand, filed a caveat with the Election Commission only on July 3, a day after the revolt by Ajit Pawar came to the fore.
They urged the poll panel to hear them first before passing any directive in connection with the factional fight. They also informed the poll panel that disqualification proceeding had been initiated against the 9 MLAs who went against the party line.
A combative Sharad Pawar has assured his supporters that he will not let anyone snatch the party symbol.
“The party symbol is with us, it is not going anywhere. The people and party workers who brought us to power are with us,” the senior Pawar said today at a meeting convened at YB Chavan Auditorium.
Pawars’ power play
Ajit Pawar got a further boost today when he edged out his uncle Sharad Pawar in the numbers game.
Both Sharad Pawar and Ajit Pawar held separate meetings today in a show of strength. While around 30 MLAs were present with Ajit Pawar, the Sharad Pawar camp could boast support of only 14 MLAs.
Addressing his supporters, Ajit Pawar unleashed a strong offensive against his uncle. He took a dig at Sharad Pawar’s age citing his “retirement drama” and also accusing the senior leader of snatching away opportunities to have a party’s chief minister in the state.
“IAS officers retire at 60. Even in politics, BJP leaders retire at 75. You can see the example of L K Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. Everybody has his innings. The most productive years are from 25 to 75 years. You are 83, aren’t you going to stop?” Ajit Pawar said in his address.
Sharad Pawar hit back at his nephew and slammed him for joining hands with the BJP and reminded him that Prime Minister Modi had recently called the NCP a corrupt party.
The senior Pawar also took a dig at the rival faction for using his photo at their meeting and said “those using his image are aware that they have nothing else to show.”
(With inputs from agencies)